The British ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, resigned Wednesday. And to anyone paying attention, the cause was clear: President Trump declared Darroch persona non grata after leaked cables showed that Darroch privately said Trump “radiates insecurity” and that his administration was “inept.” In light of Trump’s reaction, Darroch said he could no longer serve.
And Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has found a novel villain in this whole matter: the media.
He might as well just call Trump a dupe.
In a trio of tweets, Graham defended Darroch and suggested that the media was to blame for his effective ouster.
“Kim Darroch did an outstanding job as Ambassador and sorry to see he has resigned his post. He got a raw deal from press,” Graham said.
He then noted Darroch, in the same leaked cables, likened Trump the politician to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in the “Terminator” and suggested that he would be reelected in 2020. Graham concluded: “A good example of selective media coverage of an issue."
First of all, the idea that Darroch suggested that Trump might actually win could be construed as praise, but it’s abundantly clear what Darroch thinks of the quality of Trump and his administration. Even people who thoroughly dislike Trump have often admitted he has shown a knack for navigating political carnage (much of it of his own making) and that he could well be reelected.
But more than that, think about what Graham is saying. He’s effectively accusing the media of providing a slanted picture and admitting that Trump was deceived by it. Trump would go on to say he wouldn’t work with Darroch, whom he labeled “very stupid” and “a pompous fool.” Graham’s suggesting that the president of the United States isn’t savvy or disciplined enough to get to the bottom of the whole thing and learn the truth before he lashes out and severs a diplomatic relationship with the ambassador of arguably the No. 1 U.S. ally.
The original story was published by a British tabloid, the Daily Mail. And there are all kinds of theories about why this was leaked now — especially in light of the battle between two Conservative Party leaders, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May.
Graham’s beef seems to be with how the U.S. media picked it up and ran with it. He seems to believe the negatives were emphasized too much. And why on earth would the media do that? Maybe because it’s newsworthy to see an unvarnished opinion of the U.S. administration from someone who has worked so closely with it. Maybe it’s because suggesting that Trump might actually win reelection, even privately . . . isn’t all that surprising.
And even if the coverage was faulty, you’d expect that a president would want to get to the bottom of the whole thing before taking the significant step of blackballing a diplomat, which could inflame international tensions. By Tuesday, we had one of two men who could soon be British prime minister, Hunt, criticizing Trump’s comments as “disrespectful” and saying Darroch would stay if he were elected.
One of the first people you’d expect Trump to consult on such matters would be Graham, who has been a leading foreign policy voice in his party for years and is perhaps Trump’s closest ally in the Senate. If even Graham can’t prevail upon Trump to avoid such a course of action and thinks Trump instead acted upon impulse and media coverage, that says a lot.
In a lot of ways, Graham is saying implicitly — and publicly — what Darroch was saying privately.